The Israeli military said it had hit at least three Hamas commanders’ homes in Khan Younis and another in Rafah targeting “military infrastructure” and an arms storage unit in a Gaza City home.
US President Joe Biden told Israel on Wednesday that he expected “significant de-escalation today on the way to a ceasefire” – but Netanyahu pushed back, saying he was “determined to continue this operation until its goal is achieved” . It was the first public rift between the two close allies since the fighting and Poznan began a difficult test of US-Israel relations early in Biden’s presidency.
However, an Egyptian intelligence official said a ceasefire would likely be late Thursday or early Friday after the U.S. appeal strengthened Cairo’s own efforts to end the fighting. The officer spoke about the delicate conversations on condition of anonymity.
Khalid Okasha, director of the Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies, which is closely associated with the government, also said a ceasefire was likely during this period, as did Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official.
Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visited the region and said Israel had “the right to defend itself against such unacceptable attacks”. However, he also expressed concern about the rising number of civilian casualties and support for the ceasefire effort.
Even as diplomatic efforts seemed to be gaining strength, an Israeli air strike struck and destroyed the two-story house of the Khawaldi family in Khan Younis. The 11 residents who slept outside the house in fear were all wounded and hospitalized, said Shaker al-Khozondar, a neighbor.
Shrapnel also hit his own house, killing his aunt and wounding her daughter and two other relatives, he said. Al-Khozondar was speaking from his aunt Hoda’s bedroom where she had died. The windows were broken and the bed pillows and debris were stained with blood.
Weam Fares, a spokesman for a nearby hospital, confirmed the death and said at least 10 people were injured in strikes overnight.
Heavy air strikes also hit a street in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, destroying dilapidated houses with corrugated iron roofs nearby. The military said it hit two underground launch vehicles in the camp that were used to launch rockets at Tel Aviv.
“I’ve never seen such destruction in my life,” said Ibrahim Afana, 44. “We didn’t even have three minutes to put a slipper on our foot,” he said, describing his family’s panicked flight after they were awakened by the family bombing. He said the army had called some residents to warn them of the impending strikes. There were no reports of victims.
The current round of fighting between Israel and Hamas began on May 10 when the militant group subsequently fired long-range missiles at Jerusalem Days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a flash point location sacred to Jews and Muslims. Heavy police tactics on the premises and the threat of displacement of dozens of Palestinian families tensions had risen from Jewish settlers.
Since then, Israel has started Hundreds of air strikes It is said that they targeted Hamas’ infrastructure, including a huge network of tunnels. Hamas and other militant groups embedded in residential areas have fired over 4,000 rockets in Israeli citiesHundreds fell short and most of the others were intercepted.
At least 230 Palestinians, including 65 children and 39 women, were killed, and 1,710 people were injured, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not split the numbers into militants and civilians. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group say at least 20 of their fighters have been killed, while Israel says the number is at least 130. Around 58,000 Palestinians have fled their homes.
Twelve people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy, a 16-year-old girl and a soldier, were killed. The military said an anti-tank missile fired from Gaza hit an empty bus near the border on Thursday, lightly injuring an Israeli soldier.
Since the beginning of the fighting, the infrastructure of the Gaza Strip, which had already been weakened by a 14-year blockade, has rapidly deteriorated. Medical supplies, water and fuel for electricity are running low in the area where Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade after Hamas took power in 2007.
Israeli bombing has damaged over 50 schools across the area and destroyed at least six completely, according to Save the Children advocacy group. While repairs are in progress, nearly 42,000 children are disrupted from their education.
Israeli attacks have also damaged at least 18 hospitals and clinics and destroyed a health facility, the World Health Organization said. Almost half of all essential medications have been used up.